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Embracing Complexity and Managing Risk: PSM Challenges in Specialty Chemical Innovation

  • Type:
    Conference Presentation
  • Conference Type:
    AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety
  • Presentation Date:
    April 2, 2019
  • Duration:
    30 minutes
  • Skill Level:
  • PDHs:

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Success in the specialty chemical business is dependent upon bringing highly specialized products to market quickly, often to meet very specific customer needs. This paper will explore Eastman Chemical Company’s recent shift to focus on innovation-driven growth as a specialty chemical company and some lessons learned in managing risk in the development and scale-up process. In an ideal project plan, a stage-gate approach can ensure that safety and environmental risk are managed at the right level before a project is advanced to the next phase of development. When developing specialty products, it seems that the project phases can begin to overlap as product, process, and business case development may be happening simultaneously in the effort to quickly deliver a chemical to fulfill a specific customer application. To navigate this complexity, a scale-up program must begin by managing safety risk at the earliest point of development, bench scale lab work. This involves looking beyond proper PPE and glassware safety and having an awareness of both intended and untended chemistry and determining key chemical hazard properties to be used in future scale-up work. As the project is moved from bench scale to piloting and beyond, wasted time and resources can be avoided by establishing “ground rules” for hazard identification and risk management. This could include site or facility specific restrictions such as area electrical classification or facility siting limitations, or more general design requirements for use of inherently safer design or hazard identification techniques during process development. Finally, effective process safety risk management can be tailored to allow for rapid process development through “right-sizing” of hazard identification or risk assessment techniques. Processes can be screened based on chemical properties, process conditions, or type of chemistry to determine an appropriate risk assessment methodology and the resources that should be involved. Working to improve in each of these areas allows development projects to function more smoothly and to safely and quickly bring new products to market.
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